“The gender empowerment that I’m witnessing in my personal life, is being mirrored in my professional sphere as well.”
For all those cynics who believe that equality between men and women is an elusive goal, please look around you. Chances are, you will find women who are quickly—and quietly—reversing the historical trend in every public sphere, be it technology, sports, IT, health, politics or fashion. Women who have turned ‘obstacles’ such as age, domesticity, and class, into enablers. We would all agree that the victories women have achieved have been substantial. The question is, are they enough?
As the value of a highly skilled and diverse workforce continues to grow, there’s also increasing awareness on how we, as a society, need to create more equal opportunities. The notion of the male offspring as the ‘ghar ka chirag’ has no place in an equal world. I am doubly blessed to have two daughters, who stand tall, shoulder to shoulder with their peers and teams – both at home and in school and now as they embark on their professional journey. No challenge is too big for them to handle, and no situation too daunting.
The gender empowerment that I’m witnessing in my personal life, is being mirrored in my professional sphere as well.
I am truly proud of being a part of SAP India where 25-30 percent of senior leadership positions are held by women, purely succeeding through their skills, intellect, hard work, and merit. In fact, many of our initiatives have been directed at encouraging an equitable workplace, by enabling equality as a human right. At SAP India, we have always believed that the power of knowledge and intellect is a cornerstone for empowerment. Our internship opportunities enable young women and men to gain exposure of the real world and traverse through an excellent learning curve. The ‘Back to Work’ program we were the 1st ones to introduce in India is aimed at women who are planning to re-enter the workforce – to facilitate them with a smooth transition and return – to the corporate world.
While dismantling the barriers lurking in the corridors of power, we are also working towards extending this commitment to the larger ecosystem out there. After all equity is as essential as equality, and for that, efforts need to trickle to the bottom of the barrel.
We have been supporting girl children and women through various touchpoints like education and skilling and making concerted efforts to eliminate gender inequality right at the grassroots. Quality education integrating STEM and digital inclusion are keys to enabling underprivileged girl children counter gender inequality. That is exactly what SAP India’s Code Unnati does. The emphasis of this program as the word ‘Unnati’ means is on prosperity, empowerment, and development. It is our flagship initiative, a corporate-to-citizen collaboration which offers literacy in digital and IT skills to foster digital inclusion in India. The beauty of the program is it is an inclusive corporate to corporate initiative in partnership with Larsen & Toubro, ITC, Mahindra & Mahindra expanding it with Project Nanhi Kali. We have also launched a joint skilling program called TechSaksham in partnership with Microsoft for Underserved Young Women, authorizing them to build careers in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, web design, and digital marketing. A mindset change and a coordinated effort at the grassroots goes a long way in fostering gender equality to materialize at home.
The fact of the matter, however, remains, that no one organization or individual can turn the tide alone. Collective action is the key to enduring change. There is a dire need to pool in the collaborative strength of corporate and large players of every industry to ring in change at the national, regional, and local levels. If companies can make grassroots activism as one of their agenda, there is no reason why we can’t achieve equality for the sustainable development of our great country.
As a father of two, I would like my daughters to flourish in an equal land, where disparity and discrimination based on gender lies far behind us as a relic of the past, which is exactly what it is. The future of our proud nation should be built equally on the shoulders of women and men alike. It will only be then, that the nation will march forth to claim the greatness that has always been expected of her.
(The above authored has been penned down by Kulmeet Bawa, President & Managing Director, SAP Indian Subcontinent)